Mark Richt & Will Muschamp: Coaching Saturday's Game Through Anger

By Phil Clark

Anger has always been associated with the game of football. Two coaches that have epitomized the image of the “angry football coach” on the sidelines have to be Mark Richt and Will Muschamp. This past weekend Richt’s Georgia Bulldogs defeated Muschamp’s Florida Gators 17-9 to take control of the SEC East. If this game could be described in any way, it would have to be as a game built on anger. As someone who has a decent ability to read lips, take my word for it that there was plenty of not safe for work language coming out of both men’s mouths on the sidelines this past Saturday, just to give an indication.

These teams played angry on Saturday and it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. This was not only a showcase game for both teams, but for the rivalry. For years these two teams have been either sharing the spotlight or have had the spotlight stolen from them by the Alabama Crimson Tide and LSU Tigers. That rivalry has trumped the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party for years, and if there was a year where that would change, this was the year.

Now all of that works to get a team riled up prior to the game. Then it’s generally up to the coach to maintain that intensity, though more controlled than the intensity the players need to possess, and anger tends to be the easiest way to do this.

Both coaches would find out quickly on Saturday that this game would give both coaches many reasons to remain angry, none of them positive.

If there was one positive for the Bulldogs, it was that their defense channeled Richt’s anger perfectly on the field. They hit harder, made better hits, and were all-around more physical than the Gators’ offense, and it’s no wonder that the Gators got few sustained drives down the field in this game.

Turnovers, as in most football games, was what gave both coaches the most reason to remain angry throughout the game. The Gators committed six turnovers while the Bulldogs committed three, but both teams paid a big price for their turnovers.

The Gators made sure they would be playing from behind throughout thanks to their turnovers. The game was always within their grasp, but the Gators’ would then find a way to shoot themselves in the foot.

Maybe more infuriating than committing the turnovers to begin with was how some of them happened as the Gators were a big victim of tipped footballs on passes that ended up in the hands of Bulldogs defenders. The Gators’ first possession ended with a fumble lost that set up the Bulldogs’ only touchdown of the first half. And let’s not forget Jordan Reed‘s cruel twist of fate as he channeled Earnest Byner in the 1987 AFC championship game by losing the ball when Jarvis Jones got the strip while Reed was on his way into the end-zone with less than two minutes to play.

The Bulldogs should have won this game by much more than eight points, and there never should have been any of the suspense that the game ended up possessing. This is the price the Bulldogs paid for their turnovers. Aaron Murray‘s second interception (out of three) of the game came inside the Gators’ 10 yard-line. This was early in the second quarter and a touchdown here would have knocked the wind out of the Gators as they would have been down 14-0. Instead, the drive following the interception resulted in the Gators getting on the scoreboard and it was on.

Oh and there was a missed field-goal of 37 yards in the third quarter that could have helped the Bulldogs get a little distance.

One thing was constant during this game on Saturday: the images of Muschamp and Richt, wide-eyed, yelling, and in the face of one of the officials or one of their players. It was the best representation for what was going on on the field. To put it simply: two men putting anger and rage to good use in a game where anger and rage are commonplace.

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